What is it about?

We argue that the discipline of psychology has conceptualized the problem of police brutality in primarily individualistic and cognitive terms, and as anomalous acts, and in so doing, has obscured the role of structural racism.

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Why is it important?

Police brutality against Black and other people of color in the U.S. is a critical social justice and public health issue. There is a dire need for a critical informed research and work on this topic to inform structural interventions to reduce anti-Black police brutality in the U.S.


Writing this article was intellectually challenging, but also emotionally draining. As we wrote it, it seemed like every day brought a new media story of some horror of police brutality that underscored our assertion that we need to conceptualize anti-Black police brutality as a continuum of manifestations of structural racism, and not just individual or occasional acts. To this end, we introduce the Anti-Black Police Brutality Continuum.

Lisa Bowleg
George Washington University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Beyond “heartfelt condolences”: A critical take on mainstream psychology’s responses to anti-Black police brutality., American Psychologist, April 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/amp0000899.
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